School Law & Policy Updates


As highlighted in MABE's 2017 Legislative Session Summary, the recent session generated a record number of new laws requiring local boards of education to take action with school system policies and regulations in a wide range of areas including:

  • Heroin/Opioid Issues
  • Pregnant & Parenting Student Absences
  • Suicide Risk Responses; Student Discipline Restrictions
  • Whistleblower Protection for School Employees
  • Career and Technology Education Requirements
  • significant Special Education changes

In June, Steve Bounds, Director of Legal and Policy Services, and John Woolums, Director of Governmental Relations, conducted a workshop that provided detailed information as to how these new laws impact board policy, and prepare board members to fulfill these responsibilities in a timely and effective manner. Their presentation can be accessed here.


8-4-16 – Update on Gender Identity Questions

On August 3rd, the United States Supreme Court issued a stay in the G.G. v. Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd. case, putting on hold the prior Fourth Circuit ruling and the preliminary injunction that directed the Virginia school district to allow the student, G.G., to use the boys’ restroom at school. The 5 – 3 ruling by the High Court preserves the status quo (and the current school district policy of segregating bathrooms on the basis of biological sex) while the Supreme Court considers the granting of a petition for certiorari, and if the Court decides to hear the case in the next term the stay will remain in place until a ruling is issued (likely not until the end of the coming school year). A copy of the ruling is provided below. Please contact MABE Director of Legal and Policy Services, Steve Bounds, with any questions.

Supreme Court Ruling

6-7-16 - Update on Gender Identity Questions

On May 13, 2016, the Office of Civil Rights has issued a Dear Colleague letter on Transgender Students.

Additionally, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the request of the Gloucester County School Board for an en banc rehearing of the three judge panel decision set discussed in the previous update (below). NSBA has written a summary of that opinion.

Gender Identity Questions Partially Answered by MSDE Guidance and 4th Circuit Court

Schools in Maryland and across the nation are dealing with a range of issues pertaining to transgender and gender non-conforming youth. MABE’s Legal Services Association is in the process of forming a work group to draft a sample policy for the consideration of local boards. Earlier this year, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (Maryland’s Federal Circuit) issued a 2-1 opinion permitting a Virginia transgender youth to continue a Title IX suit against the Gloucester County School Board for alleged discrimination on bathroom and locker room access on the basis of gender identity. The summary of the opinion from NSBA’s Legal Clips is provided.

Gloucester County Fourth Circuit Summary

In addition, MABE has learned about a new MSDE guidance document entitled “Providing Safe Spaces for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth: Guidelines for Gender Identity Non-Discrimination” along with two companion guidance documents dealing with Student Transitions, Parents of Transgender Identifying Youth, and Community Members and Parents of Non-Transgender Youth and these are also provided.

MSDE: Providing Safe Spaces for Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Youth - Guidelines for Gender Identity Non-Discrimination

Companion Guidelines #1

Companion Guidelines #2

Map to Topic on MSDE Website

MABE and LSA will provide further updates and policy guidance in the coming months. In the meantime questions may be addressed to Steve Bounds, MABE’s Director of Legal and Policy Services.

Legal & Policy Presentations on pertinent topics:

Custody Issues - Presentation made to Kent County Public School staff, Summer 2015

Search & Seizure Issues - Presentation made to Worcester County Public School staff, Summer 2015

Negligence Liability Avoidance - Presentation made to Kent County Public School staff, Summer 2015

Transgender & Related Issues - Legal Services Association presentation, October 2015

Title IX Issues - Presentation made to Worcester County Public School staff, Summer 2015

Social Media for School Employees - Presentation made to the Maryland Negotiation Service, Fall 2015

For more information about a presentation to your board or in your school system, please contact Stephen C. Bounds, Director of Legal & Policy Services,

Policy from various school systems on pertinent topics:

Baltimore County Public Schools Policy on Equity

Oregon School System Policy on Equity

For more information about school system policies, please contact Stephen C. Bounds, Director of Legal & Policy Services.

All Board Service Academies and committee meetings are virtual during this time.

If you have any questions, please email